What is Power?
Submitted by: Nicole Sardini, M.Ed, LPCC, IMHP
I am a therapist who has worked in the mental health field for over two decades. I have experienced and moved through a significant amount of personal trauma. I have noticed patterns and themes in clients, loved ones, and myself. Over the years, these experiences have me rethinking what it means to hold true power. Everybody is the teacher, everybody is the student, and we are all equal.
Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly ego-based illusions of power that allow some people a surface-level sense of status or control. And while some people use this perceived power to serve the greater good, others abuse it in sometimes horrific ways.
How Do You View Power?
Some of us may have mixed emotions about how we view power. While we are on one hand encouraged by our culture to achieve a sense of it, our early experiences with people who held the power in our lives may not have always been positive and in some cases could have been frightening.
In addition to familial conditioning, we could also hold environmental or societal conditionings about power. Think of how the challenges around power may differ based on gender, for instance.
But power itself is neutral. When it really comes down to what matters most in life, what actually brings about true contentment and makes a meaningful difference in both our personal and shared world, the only real power any person has is the power to bring clarity, insight, and healing to their inner world.
By doing so, they bring about a sense of peace with what is within themselves and are able to allow the love they find themselves to be at their core, to overflow and help shape the outer world. That is the kind of power that allows us to know and connect with ourselves so deeply that we can then find a way to use our unique makeup and gifts to honor ourselves and the collective.
It’s a power that not only enhances our personal sense of well-being, but allows us to leave this planet a little bit more kind, evolved, loving, peaceful, or beautiful than it was before our time here.
The only supposed damage that can occur by taking the risk of changing our internal definition of what we view as power and worthy of working toward in our lives is to our pride. We may feel embarrassed by patterns we see in ourselves when we look deeply or by the things we feel sensitive about or hurt by, for instance, or we may find old memories of painful events to be hard to sit with when we really delve in deep to our inner work, but we can’t really heal or change from things we aren’t willing to even acknowledge.
Patterns and Understanding.
Even as we do our healing work, what we will inevitably find is that there are some things we can make sense of, and some things we can’t.
On one hand we may come to understand things along the lines of our parents were repeating patterns they learned from their parents that they hadn’t managed to break. We are afraid of relationships because we never felt we were able to depend on anyone outside of ourselves and feel emotionally unsafe in them. We have codependent tendencies we want to address. We have actually outgrown some of our old patterns and are ready to accept our growth.
But there will also be things we can never fully understand. Things that no matter how many times we try to wrap our mind around them, we just can’t make sense of like:
- Why did I have to lose my mom at such a young age?
- Why is there still war occurring in so many parts of the world?
- Why do some people seem to have to overcome so much more than others?
Some of these things we can understand on a surface level, but they just don’t register fully in our hearts.
Obstacles and Challenges Can be Tools for Growth.
From a spiritual perspective, and literally, if you consider how physical light works, light can only be seen by something obstructing it or giving it contrast.
Our souls, which are here to experience their own evolution, can use our ability to respond to these difficult situations that have shaped us in painful ways. Like workout equipment for building emotional and spiritual strength and resilience.
This doesn’t mean we negate or minimize the emotional waves these challenging experiences entail or to bypass our grief when we experience or uncover new pains. Rather, it means that we continue to grow through them.
In the Biosphere 2 project, scientists created a completely enclosed natural environment, but because there was no wind, the trees could not stay upright. They were too weak to survive without the stress the wind provided them. They could not know strength without it.
Challenges don’t always have to take us down for good. It may blow off some branches in more extreme cases. The debris that results may even cause damage to those who are around us that will need to be repaired. In some cases, we have experienced extreme loss, and a few limbs from our tree may be completely cut off, and we learn how to live with great loss.
But ultimately we survive and are rooted even stronger. The only real assault on our world is to intentionally hold ill will for anyone walking upon it. To attempt to harm or harass someone else because of our inability to be with and examine our own wholeness or a desire to acquire some sort of human surface level benefit.
Attempting to do so does not make anyone unequal, per say, in any other way than the self created pain of not getting to know love as a “state of being” rather than something just given and taken away conditionally. To be clear, maintaining healthy boundaries, and even ending relationships in some cases, can be a loving thing to do.
People are under no obligation to forgive or forget anything that may have brought them to a painful place. But dimming the light of someone else because of inattention to our personal evolution or even dimming our own light after someone else has attempted to dim it on our behalf is a collective disappointment. May we embrace our TRUE power and know how full of love we all are beneath the pain and the heartache and the pride that sometimes makes us forget that real power is already within and accessible to us at any time.
Feel your emotions.
We can remember who we are at our essence and honor it no matter what is happening around us. No matter who seems or doesn’t seem to care about what they’re doing in this world, no matter how many traumatic experiences we may have had. First love yourself through them. Feel the pain. Grieve as you need. And then rise again and love harder. Love so hard (and so softly) that it solidifies in you as an impenetrable state that can no longer be hidden by the pains of the world.
Then you naturally shine your light so bright that others start to or continue to remember theirs. This is the only kind of power that is lasting. It is the only kind of power that makes a real difference in our personal and collective evolution.
If you are experiencing challenges in your life, a therapist could offer the help you need. The GoodTherapy Registry might be helpful to find the right therapist. We have thousands of therapists listed with us who would love to walk with you on your journey. Find the support you need today!
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